The mysterious and über cool no-name headstock.
This just posted to the Mandolin Cafe Classifieds, an interesting place to post it, Tony Rice’s personal Santa Cruz Guitar is for sale.
I’m sure the forums and discussion groups like Flatpick-L will be abalze in speculation and rumor about why he is selling. It makes no difference to me.
My only complaint about all the Santa Cruzes I’ve played, and I’ve played more than most folks because I worked for a Santa Cruz dealer way back in the day, is that the fret ends are too sharp. He always left them, even the Brazillian Rosewood Tony Rice Pro models very pointy and when sliding your hand up and down the neck, they always felt too sharp, like they were slicing your fingers off. Bill Collings on the other hand, always had a very pleasing soft-rounded feel to them, when he was actually making guitars himself that is. Anyway details from the ad are quoted below.
We are proud to present Tony Rice’s personal guitar from Santa Cruz, which was in fact used on the Tone Poems record. This was a unique record in that many of the most archetypal instruments were consolidated for historic representation on one record with two of the finest pickers that have ever lived. Along with famous Loar mandolins and Pre-War Martins, Tony chose this particular instrument to represent the very best that modern guitar builders could produce to stand alongside the giants of older instruments.
In the early 70’s, Tony cemented a lifelong musical and personal friendship with mandolinist David Grisman. Dawg had begun to experiment with a deeper form of improvisation than standard Bluegrass fiddle tune chord changes offered. Tony decided to expand his knowledge of music and left the JD Crowe band to complete the now legendary David Grisman Quintet. Tony quickly befriended band mate, fiddle player Darol Anger. Darol was a friend of Richard Hoover and introduced the two. Richard asked if he could design Tony a custom instrument that would benefit his playing and tonal requirements, and there began a lifelong friendship in 1979.
The first design for the Tony Rice Signature model was produced that year, and continues to be offered in the Santa Cruz line today. Tony has constantly been a sounding board for his guitar’s design and a few of his instruments have been sold to the public in those years. This particular instrument was one of Tony’s favorites, nicknamed “Chocolate.” In a personal note that will accompany the guitar, he describes that this “guitar has been used by me more so than any other ‘Cruz’ both in public performance and recording projects.” He goes on to say “Its performance was particularly satisfying to me on the Bluegrass Album Band Volume 6. On that particular recording event, it was used in conjunction with my 1935 Martin D-28, and I defy the listener to distinguish one guitar from the other.” He also states that John Carlini used this Santa Cruz almost exclusively on his album River Suite for Two Guitars.
Tony’s instrument preferences came from years of playing his favorite guitar, Clarence White’s 1935 D-28. When Clarence’s father purchased the guitar from McCabe’s in California, this guitar was almost destroyed. Clarence’s father had the shop replace the fingerboard with a Gretsch fingerboard that had pre-cut fret slots, hence Tony’s preference for the in-between scale of 25 1/4 inches… not as long as a Martin long scale 25.9” and not as short as a Gibson 24 ¾” scale.
“Chocolate” is incredibly comfortable to play. Upon receiving any new Santa Cruz, Tony takes the guitar to his personal technician for a “special neck treatment.” This involves removing all the finish and then working in a special finish that gives the feel of a well worn vintage neck. This treatment is a characteristic of all his guitars. He discusses this on his Homespun DVD set entitled, “The Tony Rice Guitar Method.”
The German Spruce top has aged beautifully, while the neck is flat with very little relief, according to Tony’s low profile set-up requirements. This guitar even uses Tony’s choice of string, D’aquisto Steel strings! The figured Brazilian back and sides provides a growl to the instrument, along with clarity you won’t find on other guitars. Despite being used on numerous recordings, and public performances, it does not have as many dings and scratches that you might associate with a highly used instrument.
From Tony’s own words: “I am parting with this instrument as I have with others made by Dick Hoover because our combined research and development efforts have been very successful in the ongoing efforts to create a superior sounding Dreadnought acoustic guitar. This one being a ‘strong link in the chain.’” We humbly agree with Tony’s words and invite you to own a piece of musical history and heritage!
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